As well as writing for Homeworker HQ, I enjoy answering questions about working from home on the Q&A website Quora (you can find my Quora profile and follow my answers here). And, while helping people out on Quora, I’ve noticed that one question keeps coming up time and time again: “What are the best work from home jobs?”
It’s an interesting question, because it’s much more difficult to answer than you might expect. This means there’s a lot of unhelpful advice out there.
So before we look at the best work from home jobs, I want to start by telling you how to avoid bad advice. Instead, you need to cut through the noise and decide which home-based jobs might be best for you.
Avoiding bad advice
Usually, when asked about the best work from home jobs, someone will give the easy answer. They reel off a list of jobs that can be done from home. They often include everything from blogging to being a travel agent, data entry to software development. I recently saw an article list being an animator as one of the best work from home jobs.
And that’s fine. Those are all perfectly legitimate ways to make money. And it’s certainly possible to do them from home.
But, realistically, how many people who seek advice about the best work from home jobs are going to suddenly launch a career as an animator? Or a travel agent? Or a software developer?
Presumably, if someone is asking what the best work from home jobs are, it’s because they want to start working from home. Are those suggestions really the best route to achieving that goal? After all, most animators and software developers are office-based.
Why this advice is unhelpful – the animator example
Of course, if you’re already an animator, it might be a good idea to use those existing skills, but switch to working from home. You could consider starting your own business or doing freelance work.
However, for the vast majority of people looking for good work from home jobs, the best way to start working from home is not to attempt to break into a highly skilled and competitive career like animation.
Just think about what that would involve:
- You’d need to have some creative or artistic ability, which not everybody does
- You might need to invest in computer equipment and software
- You would have to train yourself, or sign up for a course, which could take years to complete
- Then you’d have to either:
- Attempt to start your own freelance animation business, which would be almost impossible with no track record or proven results
- Or get a job working for a company, while limiting your options only to companies that allow home working, as that was your goal in the first place!
Fortunately, there is a better way.
The best work from home jobs for you
Instead of searching for some ultimate list of the “best” work from home jobs – which doesn’t exist – try thinking about what work from home jobs might be best for you.
Adding those two little words “for you” could make all the difference.
Instead of trawling through an overwhelmingly long list of every job in the world that could possibly be done from home, you can start from your own skills and interests to create a shortlist of work from home jobs that might suit you.
Ask yourself these questions
- What are your skills, talents and qualifications? Is there something you can do that most people can’t?
- What are your interests? What could you do every working day for decades? That’s the level of interest and enthusiasm you ideally want!
- What motivates you?
- How can you make money from your skills and interests?
You ideally want to find something that ticks all of the above boxes. Something that uses your skills, that you find interesting and motivating, and that gives you the opportunity to make money.
That last point is important. After all, if you’re doing something that uses your skill and that you find interesting and motivating, but that has no money-making potential, that’s a hobby, not a job!
Individual’s answers to these questions could lead them in totally different directions. For example, one person might be a qualified accountant, interested in finance, motivated by running a financially efficient business, and they may become a freelance accountant.
Another person might be a skilled writer, interested in dogs, motivated by sharing their knowledge, and they might become a blogger, making money from ads and product sales.
The point is, there are no “best” work from home jobs. It’s about what is best for you, and only you can decide that.
Characteristics of the best work from home jobs
Only you can decide upon the best work from home job for you. However, it is true that good work from home jobs share similar characteristics.
Here are a few things to look for in a work from home job. And some red flags to avoid…
- Is it too good to be true? Working from home isn’t a way to ‘get rich quick’. Working from home is still work. If it seems too good to be true then it probably is.
- Does it have a low barrier to entry? Unless you already have qualifications, or are willing to put the time in to get qualified, you’ll want to find a work from home job that is easy to get into and doesn’t cost much to get started. For example, it’s much easier to become a work from home blogger than a work from home lawyer. (Though the earnings can be very different too!)
- Does it pay well? Just because you’re working from home, that doesn’t mean you should be paid less.
- Do you have everything you need to get started? This includes space in your home and the right equipment, services and software.
- Are other people doing the job successfully from home? If other people are doing well, you may be able to replicate their success. Whereas, if nobody is succeeding at this job, it might be because it’s not viable.
Deciding upon the best work from home job for you
If you follow our advice, you should hopefully come up with at least one job that meets all of these criteria:
- You’re qualified or have the skills to do the job
- You’re interested in it
- It motivates you
- You know it can make enough money to live on
- You’re confident it isn’t a scam or doesn’t present a serious risk of losing money
- You have what you need to get started
- You’ve found examples of other people doing this job successfully
At this point, I suggest getting a second opinion from family and friends.
As much as you can do most of the work to find the best job for you, the people who know you well can also offer valuable insights.
Ask your family and friends whether they agree with your assessment of the job. For instance, do they agree that it has money-making potential? Can they see you doing the job well? You may have to really push them to be completely honest.
Don’t take too many risks
Starting a new job can be risky. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to dip your toe in the water without taking too much risk.
Even once you’ve found a work from home job that you believe is right for you, take care to keep your risks to a minimum. You can do this in two simple steps:
- Don’t quit your day job straight away. It’s much better to launch your new job while maintaining a more reliable source of income too.
- Avoid risking lots of money up front. Only invest what you can afford to lose. This includes not spending a lot of money on equipment, training courses, stock, software, or anything else that will be wasted if the new job doesn’t work out.
Give it a try!
As much as we caution against taking too many risks – and you should certainly manage your risk carefully – you may still need to take a bit of a leap to give your new job a try.
You’ll never really know whether a particular work from home job is right for you until you give it a try.
And you won’t know whether you can succeed in a work from home job unless you give it your best shot.
Once you’ve thought carefully about what job you want to do – and decided it’s worth risking your time, effort and money – then it’s time to stop reading and start doing.
There are lots of benefits to working from home, so if you plan well and act sensibly, making the switch to home working could be the best decision you ever make!